By on June 11, 2021

Volkswagen recently announced that it plans on making massive amounts of money by introducing more vehicles with over-the-air updates (OTAs), many of which will be able to store and transfer personal profiles so that users can effectively just rent their vehicles for eternity. Additionally, VW has suggested future models will have ability to lock features (that have already been physically installed) behind a paywall that users can unlock via subscription services — things like heated seats, satellite navigation, or even the vehicles top speed.

“In the future, our customers will buy, lease, share or rent cars just for a weekend, and we can use software to provide them with whatever they need over the air,” VW brand’s sales chief Klaus Zellmer said during an online presentation held on Tuesday. “The ID family has been designed for further development, with OTA updates to improve the software’s performance and tailor it to our customers’ needs.” (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2021

us-capitol, public domain

Apologies for all the semiconductor news. But it’s the topic of the day, with the United States Senate recently approving $52 billion in emergency spending to help bolster domestic chip production and another $190 billion for R&D programs.

Passing the vote (68-32) under the premise that boosting localized chip production would help prevent domestic automakers from having to cut corners, the Senate is also suggesting the funding could give the U.S. a competitive advantage against China. The Communist Party of China (CCP) has opposed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (formerly the Endless Frontier Act), with statements released from the National People’s Congress (NPC) demanding the legislation be halted immediately.  (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2021

The level of influence Elon Musk has is truly staggering, though not entirely without precedent. Steve Jobs was similarly famous and his whimsical marketing style ended up being so effective that you would see doppelgangers embracing his tactic of selling people an experience, rather than focusing wholly on the product. Minus the black turtleneck, some might even argue Musk has aped his style — perhaps while noticing similar sales tactics embraced by Ron Popeil, David Ogilvy, or P.T. Barnum.

A good pitchman is one that can adapt tried-and-true methods from their forebears while having enough unique flare not to come across as derivative. But not everyone has the magic and we’re left with a sea of less enduring (and endearing) copycats. Notice how practically every electric vehicle manufacturer seems hellbent on becoming the next Tesla, rather than adopting a corporate personality of their own.  (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2021

There’s a small camera just above the rear-view mirrors installed in newer Tesla models. If you haven’t noticed it before, it wasn’t of any particular relevance. But it certainly is now.

Tesla has decided to activate driver monitoring protocols in an effort to avoid liabilities whenever Autopilot fails and motorists unexpectedly find themselves merging off a bridge. After rummaging through the wreckage and collecting errant body parts, investigators can use the vehicle’s camera data to see what was happening moments before the car hurled itself into the ravine. If it turns out that the driver was totally alert and did their utmost to wrangle the vehicle as it went haywire, a colossal payout for the surviving family is assured. But if that camera catches them slipping for a microsecond, the manufacturer has all it needs to shift the blame onto the deceased driver.  (Read More…)

By on May 27, 2021

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee advanced the Clean Energy for America Act making a few tweaks from earlier proposals. Changes include raising the federal EV tax rebate ceiling to $12,500 and opening the door for automakers who already exhausted their production quotas.

It’s good news for General Motors, which recently begged the government for just such a handout. But any manufacturer participating in the sale of electric vehicles will find themselves similarly blessed by the updated rules — assuming they make it through the halls of Capitol Hill with the necessary support.

Let’s take a peek behind the curtain to see what the updated proposal entails.  (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2021

Now that it’s effectively too late to avoid a crisis, the United States has begun asking itself whether or not now is the time to put into motion a plan that will eventually lead to the nation manufacturing its own semiconductor chips. As you’re undoubtedly aware, the automotive sector has taken a beating as Asian-based supply chains are experiencing what can only be described as unprecedented demand. But they aren’t building enough to satisfy everyone and the local markets are taking precedent.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo proposed a $52-billion solution on Monday that would cram fresh government funds into production and research that could result in seven to 10 new U.S. factories. But that’s just to get the ball rolling on an industry that will take several years to mature, leaving some to wonder whether the country should even bother.  (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2021

The semiconductor shortage marches onward with no real end in sight. Supply chains remain a tangled mess following a year of pandemic-related restrictions and demand remains ridiculously high as we unnecessarily network and digitize increasingly more consumer goods (e.g. toothbrushes).

Though this website is really only concerned with the pace of automotive factories — most of which seem operating at the industrial equivalent of driving on the shoulder with the hazards on. The global number of vehicles lost in announced shutdowns and line slowdowns as a result of chip shortages is swiftly closing in on 3 million and estimates have it continuing on unabated for the rest of 2021.  (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2021

The global shortage of semiconductor chips has really done a number on the industry and it’s just one of several major supplier issues created by our response to the pandemic. Years from now, people will look back and use the benefit of hindsight to come up with the perfect solution to a problem that has since evaporated. But all we can manage in the present is an up-to-date tally on how much product is being lost and wait for better news.

AutoForecast Solutions (AFS) has been keeping tabs on the situation and recently updated its numbers through the week of April 30th. Production schedules in North America are now reportedly 121,000 vehicles shy of where they’re supposed to be. Though we need to pull back and take a gander at what the whole industry was facing ahead of the latest figures to have a more complete understanding of this particularly dire automotive quagmire.  (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2021

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) has informed a Senate Commerce subcommittee on transportation that the Biden Administration’s penchant for electric vehicles is starting to get under its skin. The union is recommending that the United States avoid setting any timeline for the proposed banning of internal combustion vehicles because it might cost a staggering number of jobs.

Ann Wilson, MEMA’s senior vice president of government affairs, said vehicle restrictions were unrealistic before 2040 and would obliterate entire segments of the auto industry without providing concrete assurances that the environment would be improved. While the latter claim can be argued endlessly, the former is pretty difficult to refute.  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2021

On Tuesday, the largest automotive lobbying group released a handful of safety guidelines related to driver monitoring for vehicles equipped with driver-assistance features. It’s pageantry designed to convince you and the rest of the world to embrace technologies that have already led to unsettling privacy violations. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation making recommendations for the industry is farcical because the AAI already represents just about every major player on the field, suppliers included. The only real outsider is Tesla, which the organization decided would make an excellent scapegoat for the broader tech agenda.

But there’s still merit to the discussion, especially if the only proposed solution is to let the industry watch us inside our cars 24/7.  (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2021

In today’s update on the semiconductor shortage, we learn that Daimler has elected to place over 18,000 Mercedes-Benz employees on reduced schedules. With an insufficient number of chips, the manufacturer cannot produce vehicles with sufficient reliability and has decided to ease off until resupplies are more predictable. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen for at least a few months — forcing Mercedes to roll with the punches much like Subaru, General Motors, and Ford. Though this is a problem that’s impacting the entirety of the automotive industry.

Daimler made its announcement on Wednesday, stating that facilities in Bremen and Rastatt will be the first (and hopefully only) plants affected by the stall.  (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2021

Undoubtedly eager to improve the take rate of electric vehicles, automakers have a myriad of solutions at their disposal. But the majority have something to do with getting the government involved to futz around with taxes.

Normally, this has to do with making special exceptions for EVs or subsidizing them via rebate programs. But governments seem happy to do this, as increasingly more legislation is advanced that would place restrictions on when and where people will be able to drive internal combustion vehicles, and automakers appear to be getting with the program. We’ve already seen manufacturers choosing sides in America’s gas war and now the Europeans are getting in on the action by demanding higher taxes be imposed on vehicles reliant on gasoline or diesel.

(Read More…)

By on April 13, 2021

Those of you tracking the semiconductor shortage can probably take it easy for a while, as practically every industry group on the planet has tentatively agreed we’ll be seeing a chip deficit for a few years. Meanwhile, market analysts are trying to predict the next material we won’t have enough of and rubber is looking like an ideal candidate.

Rubber supplies are drying up and price increases are reportedly beginning to climb at an untenable pace. Despite several years of relatively stable availability and low prices, supply chain disruptions created by lockdowns have left latex harvesters in a bad position. Low prices encouraged many to over harvest their existing crop, rather than invest in farmland. But with shortages looking probable as countries began responding to the pandemic, China went on a buying spree to maintain a robust national stockpile in 2020. The United States was late to the party and now finds itself in a position where scarcity is driving rubber prices through the roof just when it needs to buy more.

(Read More…)

By on April 9, 2021

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) is reporting its home market grew 74.9 percent in March, resulting in nearly 2.53 million new-vehicle deliveries. While we’re often skeptical of the organization’s rosy predictions and tallies, it’s claiming the recent sales surge is the direct result of how bad things had been in the previous year. China instituted some of the most aggressive lockdown protocols of any nation in the initial stages of the pandemic and had already been struggling with a declining vehicle market in 2019.

CAAM is making no illusions about the gains being based on anything other than how horrible March of 2020 was and doesn’t want to overpromise moving ahead. It’s a warning that the semiconductor shortage will likely worsen as the year continues, dampening Q2 projections. But the organization has not yet revised its forecast for next year’s overall sales. Last December, CAMM predicted roughly 26.3 million vehicles would be delivered by the end of 2021 and appears to be running with that target.

(Read More…)

By on April 6, 2021

us-capitol, public domain

The Alliance for Auto Innovation (AAI) is hard at work begging the federal government for help while the world continues coping with the semiconductor chip shortage, though it’s hardly the first time the industry has asked for or received administrative assistance. With pandemic lockdowns throwing global supply chains into a tailspin, U.S President Joe Biden said his administration would be seeking $37 billion and new legislation to address the chip shortage while federal agencies were directed to see what could be done in the interim.

But there’s little to be done with the brunt of the relevant manufacturing taking place in Asia, hence the AAI lobby requesting U.S. Commerce Department set aside some cash for domestic chip production in a new bill.  (Read More…)

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